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How to help your company begin its social procurement journey

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In 2023, Amazon Business surveyed 5,000 enterprise employees across France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK on their organisation's approach to sustainable purchasing. 

While 47% of respondents thought this should be a key focus for their workplace, only 14% said that they felt confident about making more sustainable procurement processes on behalf of their businesses. To add to that, a massive 70% were not aware of what socially responsible purchasing guidelines existed within their companies and 41% of those people were completely unaware of any guidance at all.

With the World Economic Forum telling us that sustainable procurement practices can introduce as much as a 15-30% increase in brand value, it’s worthwhile thinking about making adjustments to your company’s procurement policies and processes.

Here are a few things you can do to encourage your company to introduce social procurement practices.

Think about your business goals

For many years, the ultimate marker of success in business was profit. But ESG is increasingly important for businesses concerned with the impact they’re having on society. And as customers become more interested in purchasing environmentally conscious products and services to mitigate their own environmental footprint, there are opportunities for businesses to consider their goals beyond growth.

There are legislative incentives for businesses too. The Social Value Act requires the public sector to maximise economic, social and environmental benefits for local communities when procuring services, creating additional opportunities for suppliers offering products and services to meet those needs.

Identify quick wins

If you’re new to social procurement and not sure how to get started, look for the existing gaps in your supply chain and work towards filling them with new social and environmental suppliers who have done the work of measuring their social value.

And when it comes to reviewing your existing strategy or policies, are there obvious processes or contracts that can be changed to be more socially conscious or environmentally friendly, for example by introducing a local supplier? Having a positive impact on your own community will be clearly visible to your staff and can motivate them to pursue further socially motivated contract opportunities. 

Develop your existing supplier relationships

Social procurement doesn’t have to be about finding new suppliers: reach out to your existing suppliers to understand more about how they operate and whether they have ESG policies in place, or are working towards them.

It may be a chance to influence their practices in a way that can have a ripple effect through an entire supply chain, increasing the overall impact of sustainable procurement practices. Large corporations can have an outsize influence here, given the size of their existing procurement footprint and networks.

Get internal and/or senior staff buy-in 

Leadership is vital when it comes to driving change through internal policies. While the initial desire to improve a company’s social procurement policy might come from further down the corporate ladder, it will have the biggest impact if senior staff can be persuaded to share the vision for a more socially and environmentally friendly policy and advocate for its introduction. 

By setting the right targets for the business and tasking teams with drafting and implementing new policies and procedures, social procurement can become an accepted part of your business, with all staff understanding its value in relation to their role.

Work with experts in social procurement

The best thing you can do to smooth your journey towards social procurement is to get advice from an expert.

At Supply Change, we work to connect buyers with social and environmental suppliers, ensuring high returns for business, people and the planet. Our new procurement platform is full of Trusted Suppliers, who have all been pre-vetted to ensure they’re contract ready. You can find details of the products and services they offer, their impact, business practices and insurance all in one place, where you can also connect through our chat function. 

If you’d like to find out more about what we do, contact us today and get started on your social procurement journey!


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